Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Just Three Things

“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.”  
 -  Lao Tzu

How do you define simplicity in your life?  

When do you discover and reveal patience each day?  

Focus on your compassion and when you initially understood its concept.

Search beyond these abstract ideas for descriptions of how you achieved each of these treasures.  

Have you taught them to others?   

If you're still pursuing one or all, write about that journey also.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Banned Book Week

Celebrate Banned Book Week.

How many have you read?  Read one this week.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Imaginate for Fun

Perhaps imagination is only intelligence having fun. ~ George Scialabra

Three C's to consider for the imagination today - Creativity. Chaos. Control.  

Let creativity play at the meeting place of control and chaos. 

Provide a cafe setting with tables and yellow umbrellas. Let the breeze and bird song mingle with dappled sunlight.

Chaos rages by. 
        Control sips coffee and breathes in the shine of day.  
                         Where will Creativity sneak in?  

What if you gave each a name and had them interact during breakfast? 

Let your imagination play!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Meet with Triumph and Disaster

At age 10, while training to play competitive tennis, I had the opportunity to visit the Wimbledon tennis courts in England. My father pointed to the sign over Center Court which read, “Meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters the same.”

He encouraged me to think beyond any impossible challenge to make I’m Possible my mantra. The words of the sign stuck with me. I did not really understand their meaning until I had to deal with winning and losing in high school tennis tournaments and other interscholastic sports.

Years later I discovered the quotation came from the poem, “If” by Rudyard Kipling.

One of the most important strategies I developed involved my outward attitude. I began to realize how it affected my opponent. I learned to judge a missed shot with an inner laugh and straight face. Positive body language worked to my advantage.

My efforts to prevent my competition from observing my frustration took a long time to establish. I had to make it authentic from the inside out. As I developed my self-confidence when losing, I realized the power I had over an opponent. My ability to keep in touch with I’m Possible turned many games around in my favor. I also gained strength from my opponents’ frustrations.

Never permit your opponent - whether disguised as frustration or a cranky mood - to dislodge that belief you have in yourself.

The more you discover about yourself, the more strength you will bring to all of life’s encounters in relationships or competition. Each win or loss will provide more experience for the next level of achievement.

Write your accomplishments.

How do you achieve success?

Write your feelings and frustrations. How will you overcome them?

What does failure mean in each circumstance?

Let humor become your ally. Do not look back but continue writing onward. Record all of your efforts.

Writing about your life's opponents will always help you learn ways to defeat them.  Then, on a day when those imposters of Triumph or Disaster intrude upon your feelings and focus, read about the ways you charged beyond the challenges. Build upon these skills for the future.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Time of Silence

"Like the center of a spinning top or the eye of a hurricane,our inner center is always calm." - Yogi Mir

Imagine a hummingbird as a statue on a branch with its flurry of activity at rest. 

How would it feel to quiet your day?

Take time to sit and find your center. Breathe in four breaths, then breathe out four. Continue until you can extend your exhalation to ten.

Feel the silence when you slow the breath, find stillness and relax. Sounds may arise as energy when you put yourself into a focused state.

Notice that the space around you opens. Nothing will overwhelm when you pay attention to the rhythm of the breath.

Give this feeling of rest a name as you search for balance. Use the name and revisit its calming effect from time to time each day.

Observe the tranquility and a sense of peacefulness. 

Return often to benefit from a time of silence.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Transition to Autumn

Autumn arrives in stealth. 
A click crisps the morning air.
Trees replace green with reds, oranges, yellows.
Sparkled by moonlight, harvest time begins.

Does seasonal change signal a need to make your own adaptations? 

What needs to change color in your life? 

Let the hidden emerge.

Discover the subtly of transitions.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Threshold Experiences

Often the best writing occurs when a writer arrives on a threshold. At this place the disorder of experience, emotion or memory meets the ordering power of words. 

Recall a memorable experience just before and after it happened. The threshold forced a choice and took you to another place.

Discover the nature of your own personal threshold. Place yourself there and write from that dynamic location.

Write the memory of a choice made "just in time." 

Bring the reader into your experience at the threshold moment.

How did the choice move you into a better outcome?  Write again about the other choice you could have made. Where might that decision have taken you?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Autumnal Equinox

That time of year thou may'st in me behold, 
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang 
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, 
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. 
William Shakespeare 

The autumnal equinox begins today.  Equinox comes from Latin meaning "equal night." The fall and spring equinoxes are the only days of the year where the sun crosses the celestial equator. 

Temperatures begin to drop and the hours of daylight decline. Days get shorter than the nights.

The Mayans built the pyramid of Kuklukan in Chichen Itza to honor the autumnal equinox. During the equinox, light creates an illusion of the serpent God Kuklukan slithering down the pyramid.

With shorter days, and longer, cooler nights, biochemical processes in the leaves paint the landscape a variety of colors.

Watch the ways colors change in leaves and flowers that remain.

Observe changes in the sky and movement of clouds. 

Describe your memories of transitions.


Think of seeds scattering to bring new growth after winter.  

Which seeds will you scatter to prepare for blooms in spring?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Meaning of Life

What is the meaning of life?  That was all - a simple question: one that tended to close in on one with years.  The great revelation had never come.  The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, marches struck unexpectedly in the dark . . .   
                                                                - Virginia Woolf

Each day provides opportunities to become amazed.  Nature provides illuminations.

Connections keep us amused.

If we stay aware and move beyond internal tension, there's much to discover from external teachings.

Amazements exist around every corner.  Wonder discharges above us. 

Colors share a view.

Sounds combine for a symphony.

Take in the array of scents.

Pay attention to gather the mysteries.

Find amusements.   

                   Play in a grateful way.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Into the Details

Kahlil Gibran wrote, “Your soul is often a battlefield upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against your passion and your appetite.”

This example reveals an opportunity the writer did not take. When Gibran began his notion of the soul, he used the metaphor of a battlefield and then explained about waging war inserting four abstractions. He could have defined each by including examples.

Readers may connect with his reasoning but need details and realistic pictures in words to understand his meaning of reason, judgment, passion and appetite.

Communication to the reader works with metaphor, imagery and details. Because we come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, the above words create different reactions. 

Writers need to show examples of complex emotions to give the reader a clue to our intentions.One person's reason might be another's wrong. 

Judgment becomes a complex issue. Who's the judge? Passion and appetite require images to show their impact. 

What does reason look like?  

Does judgment have a sound, taste or scent?

How could you show passion in action?

Reveal abstractions in concrete ways.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Write the Feelings

"Writing is a window. It opens onto vanished feelings and vanished worlds." ~ Louis Menand

Emotions come and go. We can wrestle them to the ground or acknowledge them and let them fly.

Even if they appear to vanish into the horizon, they will return in other colors, shapes and sizes.

Write about your window into feelings that vanished. Where did they go?  Did they return in other forms for reconsideration?  

Write into, around and through them.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A River Write

"The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters." - Norman Maclean

A tumbling river teeming with life reveals the search for simplicity and unity. Waters have magical power. Swift-surging rivers change with the light during the day. They merge with wonder in darkness. The flow provides opportunities for meditation and reflection. The river becomes a symbol of constancy within change.

Norman Maclean wrote, "Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it." The Indian word, 'hassayampah' means, the river that loses itself undergound, in other words - intuiton.

Recall a river or body of water that affected your life.

Write your personal journey as a life that flows, constant and changing. How do you compare your life to a river?

We experience others' lives. They move on, flow through other landscapes and merge with different lives. Consider those who came before you. How, like a river do you carry them with you?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Awakening Rites

Measure your health by your sympathy with morning. If there is no response in you to the awakening of nature—if the prospect of an early morning walk does not banish sleep, if the warble of the first bluebird does not thrill you— Thus may you feel your pulse. - Henry David Thoreau, from Journal entry, 1850

Celebrate with gratitude for a morning awakening.

Use all the senses to walk into an examination of nature's delights.

Let nature's way enrich the ability to shake off despair and frustration.

Develop balance breath-by-breath.

Impossible requires patience until . . . I'm possible appears from the inside out. Just watch a spider and web in the rain.

Creativity permits one to make mistakes. Knowing those to keep develops art.

Notice what internal change reveals.

Discover morning rites of awakening.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Letting Go

We should value our enemies because they provide us with unique opportunities 
to practice patience, tolerance and forbearance. 
- Dalai Lama

Individuals who do not agree with us reflect with mirrors and shout as energizers. Rather than calling them "enemies," I prefer to think of them as stimulators. If everyone agreed with our thinking and ways of living, we would learn nothing. 

Those who have varied opinions provide the opportunity for us to take off blinders and revitalize our mind sets. If we choose to do so. That's the challenge.

Tolerance forces us to open our minds to a neutral space. Never easy but enlightening, it helps us grow.

When the Dalai Lama speaks of "forbearance," he means refrain and patient endurance. Self-control always creates another opportunity to think and gain insights.

Why do we detest the idea of being "wrong" ? We risk ending relationships, cause stress and pain for ourselves and others when we take on the terrier mentality and ferocity of holding on to our notions. Our perceptions or preferences, like worrying a stuffed toy without relenting, stop the wisdom process and life's progress. 

If we must fight for right and wrong, we need to stop the mind chatter to ask what difference it makes. Whose ego gets in the way and what for?

What if we avoid trying to control everything: situations, events, people and . . . things.  We only have the ability to control our decisions, not those of others. What if we allow everything to unfold and watch the process from bud to flower? Observation provides insights and opportunities to practice letting go.

When a situation triggers, we have the power to respond with positive thinking.

How would you respond to this quotation? “By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond winning.” - Lao Tzu

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Writer's Metamorphosis

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, "I name you three metamorphoses of the spirit: how the spirit shall become a camel, and the camel a lion, and the lion at last a child."

These metaphors describe various stages in the transformation of human consciousness. For Nietzsche, nothing is static; all is in flux and becoming. As a beast of burden, the camel accepts a load and goes days through the desert without water. The camel-image seems to refer to the human tendency to confront the difficult out of a sense of duty.

Writers learn grammar and technique from others. We gain the tradition and culture of literature. At this stage we do not have the freedom to make our own decisions because we give our will over to what we believe, "we ought to do." By following the rules we move on a path for further refinement.

Then the lion-like spirit takes over. The creative freedom arises as a writer discovers confidence and rebels.

The lion becomes a child.  A return to innocence energizes. Now the writer can engage in original ideas without restraint.

We may need to shuttle back and forth in the progression to gain the most in our writing.

Have you gone through this process as a writer from obedience through reaction to a child's wonder?  Where are you in the process? Do you risk and struggle with uncertainty?

Develop a metaphor to describe your trip through the writing process.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Realign for Autumn

"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous leading to the most dazzling view.  May your mountains rise into and above the clouds."  - Edward Abbey

Each month we require a shedding, purging and flushing of old ideas and frustrations. 

Prepare for a growth spurt in September.

Revive an idea that has gone fallow.

Renew like an explorer on a frontier once abandoned.

Find reverie in an amusement and enchantment.

What have you imagined but never done? 

Regain an experience you've denied yourself for no reason.

Replay a theme in your imagination that needs a reality link.

Retreat with an excursion to light up your spontaneity.

Take action. 

Revive. Renew. 

Find your reverie. 

Realign for autumn.